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Politics of Clean Fuel - Part III

In my previous posts [ 1 ][ 2 ], I highlighted how intertwined energy business and politics (namely on oil) have become and how they are blocking the ushering of clean fuel technologies in the developed world. Shubham commented in response to Part II - ... the developing countries have the wherewithal to come up with alternate methods of energy. If something good and sustainable has to be found, it has to come from the developed world.... Since most of the cutting edge research in the world happens in the US, no progress has been made on finding alternate sources of energy in the recent past. The point he is making is exactly what I am refuting, that it is not merely about research any more ; the technology that is needed is already there (at least basic if not advanced) , the problems are more political in nature. Therefore, if say the Indian govt creates a legal and political ecosystem favourable for use of renewable energy, all the research which has been done (in India or abroa

Politics of Clean Fuel - Part II

Continued from Part I The strategy of increasing domestic oil consumption worked well as the indigenous oil reserves were going well and sufficient reserves were secured in the middle east. But OPEC stepped in and soon after being formed, it caused havoc in 1970s with the oil embargo . Soon, a reverse trend was to set in - just as war had lead to increase in oil production, now oil was to lead to war. By the mid 1980s it was well clear that the encouragement of oil consumption had backfired on western governments and something had to be done to control the menace of increasing oil prices. Iraq presented a classic opportunity to the US in the early 90's by invading Kuwait and opening doors for a direct and legitimate intervention of the western politicians and regimes into the middle east. The war for oil has continued with stops and spurts thereafter well leading upto into the recent Iraq conflict. With more than a decade of war and 5 decades of politics behind it, governments

Politics of Clean Fuel

While travelling on the crowded Powai belt of the JVLR [ map ], a colleague exclaimed that it is surprising that rising fuel costs and pollution have not yet created enough concern for serious research and product development in the area of Alternative Fuels. This lead me to wonder as to why, just like an increase in fuel production in the mid 1900's cause an increase in automobile traffic worldwide, is an increase in fuel prices not causing a wave of alternative technologies? The reason, I think is - what it has always been - political will! Oil was discovered way back in the 9th century, however it did not find much use till the industrial age began. But even after the onset of the industrial age in the 17th century, coal remained the primary source of energy till the 1950s. And then suddenly, the consumption of oil started rising thereafter - why? Coal was a viable source of energy till it was used as a fuel for factories and other static energy consuming centers. However, e